Friday, June 13, 2003

Assailed by Doubts

I felt much better yesterday after I talked to the insurance company. Not that my deductible will be any lower (one thousand dollars, oy), not that my future rates aren't going to go up, not that I actually changed anything... but I talked to this really nice lady and I did the necessary footwork and generally acted like an adult. I also bought a roll of duct tape (now, at the store, the labels said "duck tape," and I was taught the word as "duct tape"... who's right?) and bandaged up Miss Jane's wounds. And though she still looks awful, her scars are post-op grim instead of emergency-room gruesome.

But last night, just as I was dropping off to sleep, this little question popped into my head: "Were you in the right lane?"

The story of the accident, as I set it down here in the previous post, is the story that I have told the SF Police, the insurance claims people, and anybody who would listen to me in my daily life. In thirty-six hours, I have probably repeated that story twenty times. In that story, I was already in the right lane and was turning right into a parking lot and had no reasonable expectation of the motorcycle being there.

But having introduced this tiny doubt about my story, I can't really now remember the exact moment of the accident. I remember that at the moment of impact I regretted having done something stupid... was I actually in the left lane, and did I suddenly turn right across a lane of traffic without signaling or looking over my shoulder?

I know I am capable of gross stupidity, but that particular piece of gross stupidity seems so unlikely. I was trying to get to the right, and the reason I turned right to get into the Safeway parking lot is because I remembered you can't turn right behind Safeway because that's where Duboce stops suddenly and plunges into the MUNI tunnel... and if I turned right after that, I would have to turn right again onto Market and left across busy Market without a turn-only-light to get onto Duboce and thence to the freeway; if I was in the left lane, I would have turned left onto Duboce and then another left to get back to Market. I also habitually look over my shoulder before I change lanes, since the first three cars I ever drove didn't have a right side-view mirror and so I am not in the habit of using one (Miss Marjorie has one, but I used it almost exclusively for curb-finding when parallel parking); the only reason I can think of that I wouldn't look behind me would be if I was already in the right lane.

On the other hand, I know myself not only capable but also widely experienced in fabricating face-saving memories. My memory has been known to produce a version of events that is more flattering to myself than the absolute truth. It is quite possible that I was in the left lane, and that when questioned about the event I would have blurted out an untruth that would make my wrong action more forgivable. I was also tired and preoccupied when it happened, and it is quite possible that my mind was just going through a moment of mental abstraction (a brain fart) when I turned, and the logic of my destination and habitual driving practices might simply have been suspended.

What's driving me nuts, though, is that I can't remember. Usually when I have fabricated a memory, once I accept the possibility of having lied to myself I remember the true memory quite clearly. I sat up in bed for over an hour trying to wrest the memory from my subconscious, focusing on the visuals that are the clearest parts of my memory (I have a photographic memory, but I don't always process the photographs very well, and then sometimes have trouble accessing where I filed them). I also prayed and meditated, struggling to accept the possibility that I was in the left lane, and accepting all the ramifications that version of events would carry. But in all the memories I have managed to pin down, it could have gone either way. I simply have no memory of which lane I was in, and the visual memories I do have would support either hypothesis.

In order to get to sleep, I had to come to some sort of conclusion... and so I have decided that I will defer to whatever is in the police reports. I don't know if there were independent witnesses to the event itself, but I'm sure the police evidence (they spent some time measuring distances and trajectories, and must have come to some conclusion on what really happened), and the motorcyclist's version of events would shed some light... if he said I was in the left lane, I will have to accept that as the truth. And if that is the truth, I will have to manfully accept whatever consequences that entails.

I dearly hope that there are no serious consequences... I don't think either the motorcyclist or the motorcycle were materially damaged, and I don't think people are sent to jail for traffic mistakes that do not result in an injury. With my enormous deductible, which is higher than what I think the cost of repairs will be, I doubt that fault will have any effect on my purse, unless there was in fact damage to the motorcycle or its rider. But that question is in the hands of the insurance adjustors, and they will base their decisions on the police reports, and if the police reports could go either way or are in favor of the motorcyclist, there's nothing that my changing my story would accomplish.

The main thing, I guess, is that I just have to wait and see what happens. That's hard to do sometimes, especially when the consequences can be grave. But there's nothing else to do... except perhaps to alter my statement to the police. I'll have to consider that possibility and consult with experts (namely my uncle, you can't believe how convenient it is to have a cop in the family) about the viability of introducing new evidence, especially when it is a doubt rather than a material fact, into a police report. And continue to pray and meditate on the subject.

In other news, I lost five pounds this week! I've certainly been enjoying my daily gym visits, I wake up in the morning feeling more energetic and alive, and I'm sleeping better (except when trying to remember something I may or may not want to remember). Of course I did indulge in a lot of starches yesterday, I needed the comfort of unremunerative carbohydrates to see me through (a bag of M&Ms when I was trying to figure out my insurance papers, then a grilled-cheese sandwich and corn chowder for lunch, and finally a fairly starchy Grandmother-produced dinner)... but then I worked extra hard on the treadmill and bicycle so hopefully it will even out.

So anyway, wish me luck and love, as I do for you.

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